By Abiodun KOMOLAFE
Again, Osun governorship election has come and gone with its attendant bliss and despair. A winner has emerged while losers have either cheered themselves with courage or looked in the direction of enriching Nigeria’s jurisprudence. While one may wish to laugh at the contenders, even yell at the pretenders over the confusion to which they subjected Nigerians while the process lasted, that a tribe of the Pharisees have been feasting on this important chapter in our history to misinform an unsuspecting public is, to say the least, demeaning.
In fairness to reality, Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s major ‘mistake’ was his desire to bring Lagos to Osun without realizing that Osun didn’t have what it takes to be (like) Lagos. Added to this was the salary dilemma which struck the state like an epidemic somewhere along the line. Unfortunately, more than 18 states are still caught in the web, even as we speak. In the face of these challenges however, Osun has thrown up some significant posers that may be a subject of debate for some time to come. For instance, beyond the points of law and allied arguments being raised in some quarters, it is within the jurisdiction of conventional wisdom to interrogate the circumstances that led Nigerians into becoming unlucky victims of a process that almost handed Osun’s destiny back to political misfits whose adventure in power would have limited the people’s capacity to think for the next four years.
I have told those who delight in accusing the electorate of “not appreciating performance” that, unlike acceptable democratic norms, elections here are contests – somehow stern, sometimes tedious. So, to have expected the loser on September 27, 2018 to “be honourable in losing” would have amounted to expecting the sun to rise from the West. But then, how did we find ourselves at this messy pass, where educational accomplishments are no longer appreciated for an office as important as that of a governor? Was it the fault of the Aregbesola-led government for ‘not putting food on the table of the electorate’ or that of a tiny section of the electorate for being selfishly interested in mortgaging its future for a pot of porridge?
Political leaders who lack the capacity to understand the essence of education are bound to be absentminded when issues of growing the economy in the right direction, combating unemployment, getting infrastructure development right, and checking ‘condition-driven’ urban migration come to the fore. Good that the electorate opted for a candidate whose credentials were impeccable and, his word, his bond. Otherwise, a “dance to Osun Government House” by a particular candidate would have made a mess of our education while working harder in life would henceforth have meant nothing. A lot of our youth would have by this unbargained-for victory become disenchanted and the state would have been preparing for a government by proxy as the flag-bearer in question lacks the capacity to govern a state as socio-economically sophisticated as Osun. Above all, our scarce resources would have been preparing for an unenviable journey into the hungry, private pockets of a mendacious cabal – mere men with narrow loyalty to the ‘Land of Virtue.’
Unarguably, Osun provides a rich opportunity for the party at the centre to rediscover itself, preparatory to next year’s General Elections. Without being immodest, events in the last few weeks have forced rational thinkers to conclude that, unless the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is prepared to rise to the occasion, Osun may repeat itself, even in a more ferocious form in 2019. For obvious reasons, the gang-up against the ruling party is real and, from the look of things, the contest is most likely to be tense. Essentially therefore, it’s time the story of party politics changed for the better if APC must be taken seriously by Nigerians. From the experience in Osun, fact is that Alli Baba and the Forty Thieves who are bent on returning Nigeria back to Egypt are sinisterly scheming to truncate and disrupt a process already on its way to the Promised Land. Needless to repeat that APC has to change its strategy and fine-tune tactics in order to smile convincingly next year!
As we all know, the most comfortable and realistic duty of anyone desirous of developing patriotism is to read between the lines of history. A friend once wrote that if the Aregbesola-led administration had achieved 5% of what the major opposition party in Osun launched against it in terms of propaganda, the story would at least have changed. I also share this sentiment! While my comments on this objective observation are issues for another day, I make bold to say that a strategy that underestimated the influence of Isiaka Adeleke, among other considerations, in the recently-concluded election was a costly mistake that must not be repeated in the build-up to February 2019. Already, there are embarrassing allegations of compromise by some of the ad hoc staff recruited for the Osun election. This is in addition to other unpleasant infractions like vote-buying, over-voting, ballot box snatching and betrayal of trust on the part of some of the security agents deployed for the exercise. These disturbing trends are not likely to give way, except some steps are taken, lawfully, to address the situation.
Again, while the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration’s efforts at stabilizing the economy have not gone unnoticed, it still needs to do more on the herders’ insurgency which has now overtaken Boko Haram terrorism as Nigeria’s greatest security threat. Olusegun Obasanjo’s distractions notwithstanding, it is also not too late for this administration to compliment ‘greening’ of the street with some ‘greening’ of the stomach, especially now that it’s only corruption that is “fighting back.” In my view, allowing poverty to partake of the ‘fight-back’ may be too heavy a burden for Nigerians to bear.
Yes, the days ahead promise to be very interesting! Therefore, time to act is now! Strangely enough, those who had hoped to bank on the advantage of age to deceive Nigerians have with the emergence of Atiku Abubakar fallen victim to the awkward narrative usually associated with political adventurism in this part of the world.
May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant us peace in Nigeria!
*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, State of Osun, Nigeria (firstname.lastname@example.org)
O20, Okenisa Street,
PO Box 153,
Ijebu-Jesa, State of Osun.